Tips to cure an audience disease.
Being mercilessly heckled is the third most common fear associated with doing stand-up comedy. Just the prospect of being heckled deters some beginners from getting on stage because they don’t know if they’ll be able to cope with it. But, as with all things, the reality isn’t nearly as frightening as our fantasy. When handling a heckler, your goal is to remain in charge of yourself and your show. Handling hecklers effectively is a skill that is only acquired through a great deal of stage experience. In the meantime, here are some helpful hints to stave off the scourge:
Most Hecklers Think They’re Helping
Most hecklers are misguided, not malicious. They like you and want to help, so they yell out comments they think make the show funnier. They’re not familiar with concepts
First, read Part 1.
In my last article, The 10 Problems of Memorizing Words - Part 1, I discussed five of the problems. Here in The 10 Problems of Memorizing Words - Part 2, I’ll explain five more problems associated with memorizing the words of speeches, presentations, or routines.
Memorizing Words - Problem 6
Even if speakers remember the words correctly, they still aren’t a very effective means of communicating. The following is the work of University of California at Los Angeles professor Dr. Albert Mehrabian, in the book (Silent Messages published by Wadsworth 1971), and it demonstrates the relative effectiveness of the three ways
Are you using the right mental software?
Memorizing words of a speech, presentation, or routine is the most common type of rehearsal, and exactly what creates recurring performing problems. I’ve identified 10 problems which are caused by memorizing the words and their consequences.
When rehearsal is done by repeating the words over and over, they get encoded in the internal self talk voice. Then in order to recall the words, the speakers must go inside their heads and listen to their self talk say the words before repeating them to the audience.
Memorizing Words - Problem 1
Most people do not understand that normal memory is done by recalling pictures, sounds and feelings. For instance, when someone tells a story, they remember what they’ve seen, heard, and felt which gets expressed through body lang
Writing jokes is the grunt work of being a funny person. Anything that helps make it easier is always useful. Here are two tips for writing jokes:
Calendar Day Jokes
Writing jokes and bits for all of the important calendar dates such as Christmas, Halloween, Secretary’s Day, Black History Month, etc. is a very helpful tip for building a repertoire of material.
For instance, Will Durst, who lives in the Bay Area, can always call on this joke:
“In San Francisco, Halloween is redundant.”
An Mexican born student, Maria G. Martinez, studied with me for several years, so every Christmas she’s pull out this ditty:
“Here in America, you have so many Santa Clauses. But in Mexico we have no Santa Claus - they are all here looking
How you rehearse is how you will perform.
To express your real sense of humor on a stand-up comedy stage, you have to be funny in the same way that you’ve been funny all your life. In my experience I’ve found improper rehearsal to be the number one factor that causes people to lose touch with their natural sense of humor.
For instance, if you rehearse by pacing back and forth, looking at the ground and trying to remember what you’re supposed to say next, then you’ll perform pacing back and forth, staring at the ground, and still trying to remember what you’re supposed to say next.
Conversely, if you rehearse a joke as if it were something that really happened to you, pretending that you’re relating to an audience and having fun with your material, then you’ll perform as if the material really happened to you, you’ll relate to the audience,
Jokes are meant to be said, not read.
Comedy Pros Have the Freedom
One of the major errors made by beginner joke writers is they have a tendency to write flowery literate dialogue. It may read great, but when it coming out of the mouth of a comic it’s stiff, pretentious, and inauthentic. People in real life just don’t talk that way, unless they’re a Literature professor from Cambridge sporting a tweed jacket and an uneven mustache.
To avoid this trap, here are two tips for creating realistic dialogue:
Comedy Prose Use Grammatically Incorrect Language
People don’t talk like they write, so you should write like they talk. Proper grammar and syntax have nothing to do with making a joke funny. In fact, correctly worded jokes seldom flow as well as jokes written with the f
Whoever said “Silence is golden,” wasn’t a comedian.
Bombing is the number one fear associated with doing stand-up comedy. When your show isn’t getting any laughs, life stops being a movie and you’re thrust into the awareness that you’re really here in front of people. A flush of tingly heat spreads over your face, all you can hear is a deafening roar of silence. Then your internal self-talk starts screaming, “Why am I doing this to myself!” Your mouth feels as if it’s stuffed with cotton, your heart is thumping in your chest, and beads of perspiration snake down your face. You’re experiencing what comedians call flop sweat.
If this description is enough to scare you away from wanting to be a comic, quit now because bombing is an inevitable aspect of being a funny person. Accept it and prepare yourself to deal with it resourcefully.
Follow the followers.
I’d. . .timing. . .damn. . . I‘d like to. . .timing. . .oops. . . I’d like to discuss a subject that I don’t bel...timing?. . .lieve. . .shit. . . I’d like to discuss an aspect of comedy that I don’t believe can be meaningfully discussed - timing. Like love, happiness, and sushi, comic timing defies analysis.
There have been many attempts to define it, but most were futile. Years ago in their book, How to Be a Comedian for Fun and Profit, Harry King and Lee Lauger wrote, “Timing is knowing when to stop speaking in the midst of a routine in order to allow thinking time for the audience to prepare itself for the laugh that is coming up.” Not much of a definition, but it is a great piece of advice.
The only thing that’s certain about comic timing is that it’s esse
My point is…ummmmmm.
Going blank in the middle of a show or presentation is one of the most common fears of being in front of people. The number one reason people go blank on stage is the fear of going blank.
From a teacher’s perspective, I believe the sooner you go blank on stage the better. You’ll handle it and survive. Once you realize that going blank on stage is no big deal, you can not only cope with going blank, but you’ll turn it into something funny.
Here are some tips to help with the fear of going blank on stage:
The audience won’t mind if you forget for a moment, but they’ll want to know what’s going on. Don’t try to hide it. Admit it outright. Just say,
“I’ve just forgotten everything I’ve ever known.”
The audience will probably empathize with y
Funny is as funny does.
I’ve heard many times the greatest jokes reveal some truth. I agree, yet there’s more to it if you want to convey a message. For decades, I’ve been using jokes and funny stories to make a point in life, classrooms, and business.
Here’s how you can do the same.
Collect Jokes and Joke Books
I’ve got a huge collection of joke books. Many of them are out of print and must be found in used book stores in the humor section. Classic ones like Milton Berle’s Joke File to Judy Brown’s series of books quoting famous comedian.
I set a joke book in my restroom and when I take a moment, I read a few jokes in passing. Just using this method, I’ve read dozens of joke books. The idea is to have joke books around to read at any spare time. You’ll need to read hundreds of jokes to find the ones whic